Twenty-five years ago, drug information was in a very different place. Most drug information references were paper, communication was orally or via memos/letters (email was rarely available), the first web browser (Mosaic) was new, the number of medically related websites could be counted on one hand and most health care professionals had not seen any of them, and the only book on the practice of drug information was about 15 years old and had not been comprehensive when it was new. Even so, it was obvious that drug information was important and likely to become more so. It was with the hope of having a tool to use by both practitioners and students to learn the skills necessary to find and use drug information that this book was being developed. Over the years since, the tools available to practitioners, skills necessary, and functions performed in the field of drug information have rapidly evolved, resulting in a much longer and comprehensive book than was first even imagined.
Change continues to happen in the book. Perhaps the most obvious upon picking up the book is a continuing change in editors. Sharon Park, who edited the sixth edition, is no longer involved with the book. However, we have two new editors—Ben Witt and Dave Peterson, who we would like to welcome.
One constant in the book has been the focus on providing training in drug information management. It has been tested and refined continuously, based on experience in both practice and the classroom. In this seventh edition, the goal of this book continues to be to educate both students and practitioners on how to efficiently research, interpret, evaluate, collate, and disseminate information in the most usable form. While there is no one right method to perform these professional responsibilities, proven methods are presented and demonstrated. Also, seldom-addressed issues are covered, such as the legal and ethical considerations of providing drug information.
However, other significant changes have been made to the seventh edition that allow it to continue to expand, updating information from previous editions, and move into new areas. This includes new chapters on peer review and media relations. In addition, the chapter on pharmacy informatics from previous editions has been expanded to be two separate chapters, dedicating a new chapter to the use of large volumes of data for decision-making and how data will shape the future of pharmacy practice.
As in the past, the book begins by introducing the concept of drug information, including its history, and providing information on various places drug information specialists may be employed. This is followed by information on how to answer a question, from the process of gathering necessary background information, through determining the actual information need, to answering the question. The chapter on drug information resources includes descriptions of the most commonly used references and contains information on apps available for practitioners. The drug literature evaluation chapters have been updated and expanded to cover newer concepts, such as adaptive clinical trials. Chapters from the previous edition have been updated and rearranged in a way to make the subjects flow better. As always, numerous practical examples are provided through the chapters and in the appendices.
With the veritable Niagara Falls of drug, medical and pharmacy information available, much of which is complex, health care professionals have an increasing need for information management skills. This book will assist health care professionals and students with improvement in drug information skills and allow individuals to evolve into new roles for the advancement of the profession and patient care. The authors and editors of this book hope you, the reader, enjoy your journey toward expertise in drug information management.